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Posts tagged ‘NATO’

Honor Veterans by Ending War

From Nation of Change
by Amy Goodman
24 May 2012

Memorial Day: Honor the Dead, Heal the Wounded, Stop the Wars

Gen. John Allen, commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, spoke Wednesday at the Pentagon, four stars on each shoulder, his chest bedecked with medals. Allen said the NATO summit in Chicago, which left him feeling “heartened,” “was a powerful signal of international support for the Afghan-led process of reconciliation.” Unlike Allen, many decorated U.S. military veterans left the streets of Chicago after the NATO summit without their medals. They marched on the paramilitarized convention center where the generals and heads of state had gathered and threw their medals at the high fence surrounding the summit. They were joined by women from Afghans for Peace, and an American mother whose son killed himself after his second deployment to Iraq.

Leading thousands of protesters in a peaceful march against NATO’s wars, each veteran climbed to the makeshift stage outside the fenced summit, made a brief statement and threw his or her medals at the gate.

As taps was played, veterans folded an American flag that had flown over NATO military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan and Libya and handed it to Mary Kirkland. Her son, Derrick, joined the Army in January 2007, since he was not earning enough to support his wife and child as a cook at an IHOP restaurant. During his second deployment, Mary told me, “he ended up putting a shotgun in his mouth over there in Iraq, and one of his buddies stopped him.” He was transferred to Germany then back to his home base of Fort Lewis, Wash.

“He came back on a Monday after two failed suicide attempts in a three-week period. They kept him overnight at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis. He met with a psychiatrist the next day who deemed him to be low to moderate risk for suicide.” Five days later, on Friday, March 19, 2010, he hanged himself. Said his mother, “Derrick was not killed in action; he was killed because of failed mental health care at Fort Lewis.”

On stage, Lance Cpl. Scott Olsen declared: “Today I have with me my Global War on Terror Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal, National Defense Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. These medals, once upon a time, made me feel good about what I was doing. … I came back to reality, and I don’t want these anymore.” Like the riot police flanking the stage, many on horseback, Olsen also wore a helmet. He is recovering from a fractured skull after being shot in the head at close range by a beanbag projectile. He wasn’t shot in Iraq, but by Oakland, Calif., police at Occupy Oakland last fall, where he was protesting. On stage with the veterans were three Afghan women, holding the flag of Afghanistan. Just before they marched, I asked one of them, Suraia Sahar, why she was there: “I’m representing Afghans for Peace. And we’re here to protest NATO and call on all NATO representatives to end this inhumane, illegal, barbaric war against our home country and our people. … It’s the first time an Afghan-led peace movement is now working side by side with a veteran-led peace movement. And so, this is the beginning of something new, something better: reconciliation and peace.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Fly Kites for Afghan Women

Dear Gabriel,

Want to do something symbolic and meaningful for women’s rights on Mother’s Day?

Help us fly kites for women’s rights.

This Mother’s Day, Amnesty is inviting you to write a message of solidarity for Afghan women. We’ll put it on a kite — kite flying is a popular pastime in Afghanistan — and fly it during the NATO Summit in Chicago, May 20-21, where President Obama and Afghan President Karzai will be discussing Afghanistan’s transition.

Send your message of solidarity sky high. Write a note supporting Afghan women’s rights by Mother’s Day, May 13.

Why kites? Because while women and girls in Afghanistan make kites, they are not free to fly them because it’s considered socially unacceptable. Kites can therefore be a powerful symbol of discrimination against women and their exclusion from politics in Afghanistan.

Although the NATO Summit will discuss Afghanistan’s future, Afghan women won’t even be at the table! Unacceptable! That’s why Amnesty is holding a NATO Shadow Summit to bring this critical subject in front of NATO. After our event, we’ll fly your kites in front of the NATO Summit to make sure that these world leaders see our message: Don’t abandon Afghan women!

Despite modest gains over recent years, women and girls still face widespread human rights abuses including exclusion from political life, gender-based violence and discrimination. For example, President Karzai has publically endorsed a “code of conduct” allowing husbands to beat their wives.

Is this progress? We think not. There is real danger that women’s rights will get thrown under the bus as the U.S. searches for a quick exit from Afghanistan.

Women and girls in Afghanistan cannot afford to wait. Masiha Faiz, a defense attorney for Medica Mondiale, a women’s rights NGO, said that she’s been attacked for defending women accused of “moral crimes,” like fleeing abuse. The government does little to support human rights defenders like Masiha.

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton told women Afghan officials, “We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always.”

Yes, we will stand with Afghan women, always. This is a defining moment for the U.S. government to show that it will not abandon women. There is no peace without women’s and girls’ human rights.

Write your message of solidarity supporting Afghan women’s rights today — for Mother’s Day, for all days.

In solidarity,

Cristina M. Finch
Policy and Advocacy Director, Women’s Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

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